A pilot plan to attract more overseas talent to Beijing’s Zhongguancun area, “China’s Silicon Valley”, will be introduced.
The decision came at an executive meeting of the State Council on Dec 3.
Experts said the move could mean that overseas talent working in Zhongguancun will have an easier time obtaining a Chinese green card. Chinese leaders have called for simplifying procedures for foreign experts to obtain Chinese permanent residency permits.
Liu Guofu, a professor of immigration at Beijing Institute of Technology’s Law School, said the policy aims to attract more global talent to China to boost domestic innovation.
“Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to reduce the time required to obtain a Chinese green card on several occasions, and he once asked Shanghai officials to research what policies are needed to make life easier for high-end expats in China,” Liu said. “This time, we may be able to actually see a pilot program.”
The program is likely to benefit at least 10,600 foreign workers in Zhongguancun. Of those, 2,654 employees are foreign experts whose expertise is urgently needed by the country, and they therefore enjoy favorable policies regarding visa applications, tax deductions, residences, medical care and insurance policies, according to statistics provided by the Zhongguancun Science Park Administrative Committee.
But Liu said such initiatives cannot be carried out without a detailed plan. “For instance, will these foreign experts be required to serve another one or two years in the region after they get a green card? Since the policy is to keep more talent in the region, what should be done to keep them from quitting the job as soon as they get the permit? Will the pilot program in Zhongguancun result in a talent shortage in nearby regions, since more workers are coming to Zhongguancun?”
Since China started to issue green cards in 2003, it has granted about 5,000 to foreign applicants, or 500 annually, while the United States issues about 1 million a year.
China announced last year that it will issue special visas to foreign experts whose skills are urgently needed, but the governments involved are still working on formulating detailed regulations to carry out the policy.
The State Council executive meeting also decided to allow foreign capital to have a greater share of investment in human resources agencies in Zhongguancun, a breakthrough that Liu said will make these companies better serve the needs of global talent. Standing regulations have forbidden foreign investment to take absolute control of such companies in China.
The meeting also decided to set up new science parks with similar favorable policies in Tianjin, Hunan province and other provincial areas.